6 CrossFit Movements Every Strength & Power Athlete Should Do

Squats, presses, deadlifts, and the Olympic lifts are often at the forefront of a strength and power athletes. While strength and muscle hypertrophy are key to athletic performance, other fitness attributes like power, balance, muscle coordination, mobility, and work capacity play a critical role in the overall development and longevity of an athlete/lifter.

Movements like the six (6) below can (and in my opinion should) find their way within strength and power athlete’s warm-ups, corrective exercises, or non-sport specific training blocks to increase general movement, fitness, and injury resistance. Therefore, in this article we will breakdown the below exercise and discuss how they can be beneficla for not only for CrossFit athletes, but most strength and power athletes as well.

6 CrossFit Movements You Should Be Doing…

Before we dive into the below exercises, I want to make it clear that the below movements are not inherently CrossFit, but rather common movements seen in most CrossFit and competitive fitness workouts, competitions, and community. That said, most of these movements offer non-CrossFit based athletes general fitness benefits that can be helpful when looking to improve muscle development, explosiveness, strength, unilateral coordination, and more.

HSPU (Handstand Push Up)

The handstand push up (HSPU) can be done in a wide variety of ways, such as with a kip, strict, from a deficit, etc. Most power and strength athletes should be able to perform strict handstand push ups (given they are needed to have strong overhead performance for lifts like jerks, overhead presses, and yes, bench press).

Mixing in this bodyweight movement can help lifters establish better body awareness, core stability, and isolite shoulder, upper pectoral, and triceps strength to truly maximize muscle growth, strength, and improve overhead lockout performance.

In a previous article, we discussed how gymnastics training (foundational movements) can be highly beneficial for more strength based athletes looking to improve movement integrity and strength without having to add additional loading onto the spine, joints, etc.

Pistol Squats

This unilateral leg strengthening exercise is a good option for strength and power athletes looking to increase balance, stability, and strength specific to lunges, squats, and even pulls. The pistol squat is an advanced bodyweight movement that requires great amounts of ankle, knee, and hip mobility; all of which can help lifters move  more weight, safely. By progressing towards a full pistol squat (and ultimately mastering it), strength and power athletes can increase their performance and fitness, help to protect themselves against injury, and develop greater muscle coordination and control.

Rowing

Rowing (as in the cardiovascular movement, rather than the bent over row, dumbbell row, seal row, etc), is a low-impact cardiovascular movement that can be done to help increase caloric expenditure (cutting weight), aid in muscle recovery (active recovery), and even improve muscle explosiveness and power endurance.

The row is a posterior chain centric movement, much like deadlifting, cleans, snatches, etc. By performing rows (in addition to the above benefits), lifters can start to pattern greater fluidity and usage of leg drive to then be applied to the formal strength and power lifts.

Box Jump

Box jumps are a movement, that while not inherent to CrossFit (as these have been around, FOREVER), have hit mainstream fitness training within the past few years. That said, performing any type of plyometric jumping exercises is critical to maximal force production and explosiveness, both highly essential to strength and power athletes.

While AMRAP workouts of box jumps may not be the best idea for strength and power athletes, utilizing proper box jump technique and sets x reps is, making these WOD staples yet another exercise coaches and athletes should be including into a well-designed strength and power program.

Thruster

The thruster is one of the more iconic movements seen in CrossFit workouts, however this squat to overhead press has been around in most sports strength and conditioning programs for years. Performing this total body strength movement increase leg strength, hip extension, and upper body pressing performance, all of which are key for most athletic endeavors (such as American football, fighting, and functional fitness).

Strength and power athletes can utilize thrusters in a wide variety of ways to increase cardiovascular fitness, burn body fat, improve positioning specific to the front squat, clean and jerk, and even the back squat. In our thruster ultimate guide, we break down everything strength, power, and fitness athletes need to know about how to implement light and heavy weight thrusters into a strength and conditioning program.

Double Unders (or regular Jump Rope)

Jumping rope goes way back, all the way to PE classes from decades ago. Regardless of the sport, jumping rope has been a staple warm-up, cardiovascular fitness, and muscle endurance exercises for the fitness goers, boxers, and now, CrossFit athletes. While double unders have been seen as a standard in most WODs, these are not new to the scene. Strength and power athletes can benefit from including double unders (and yes, single unders) into workout programs during warm-ups, conditioning sessions, or simply to increase basic fitness. The explosive nature of the jump rope can help to awaken the neurological side of things during warm-ups, increase reaction and coordination, and be a quick and easy way to increase heart rate, mental focus, and body temperature prior to hard training sessions.

Featured Image: @larrior on Instagram

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.

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